Por fin! Here I am, Mahou beer in hand after a trip to my least favorite hospital for an MRI for Thing 2, getting down to business. The last few months have truly been a blur, like I have been stuck in a spaceship from Star Wars about to throttle to warp speed. Now, however, we are smack in the middle of warp speed, each day carefully plotted out, parsed and divided, to ensure maximum pleasure and minimum pain. It is getting hairy.
What I am really not actively thinking about is the autoconversion of myself from an expat princess into just a princess. Spain has weaned me from full-time household help down to housecleaning just once a week (I did say princess, remember?). Maybe demotion to princess doesn’t really do it justice. I might just end up being a marchioness or some other form of lesser royalty instead. Ni modo, it’s just not as catchy. And to think I am not depressed at the thought! I am actually wildly excited!!! This is what Mr. Understanding calls our life lesson, the end of the expat era. The country that made us want to go home.
It has been nearly 17 years. I can hear both our families sigh as they read this. We had felt so sure Spain was such an important destination on our family timeline. Engaged to Mr. Understanding in Madrid in a grotty restaurant twenty two years ago, it felt like destiny rounding out our full circle, in a meaningful, joyful way. Now it all seems fuzzy. It does not feel meaningful and the only joy we are experiencing is the thought of getting on our last transatlantic flight home. I feel like Moses gazing into the Promised Land. Close, but no cigar, dying to get there. Did I mention the 4 repairmen in my house last Friday?
Philosophizing aside, here is my exit strategy/bucket list/swan song, in no particular order:
- drink the contents of my liquor cabinet and wine bodega. With any luck, I will not have to touch the brandy. There is still a lot of cava left over from the Christmas party! Duly inebriated, I might avoid a panic attack or two.
- go to Chinchón this Sunday and have lunch with a Partido Popular politician from Toledo. If asked, I will tell him all the things I think are good and bad about his country. His daughter, Palomita, who invited our family, ranks among my favorite Spaniards. I love politics!
- travel to the south of Spain with Nittany Kitten and Mrs. Nato, basking in the sun beside a pool, visiting wineries, and ancient cities. This is the carrot dangling in front of my face, a visit from the former expat princesses. Poor Mr. Understanding does not get a carrot. But he does get to escape the pack out, which starts May 30.
- greet Thing 1 with a huge hug on May 17, congratulating her for not only surviving her first year of college overseas, but for thriving. She is a rock star in my world!
- travel to Amsterdam in June and take Things 2 & 3 to the Anne Frank House. This is compulsory world history. I am also going to visit the Van Gogh museum this time at a leisurely pace and just sit in front of a painting. Sit and stare and think. He was a genius. Mr. Understanding gets to enjoy this particular carrot.
- sell what I can and donate the rest.
- keep my wits about me as much as possible. I have already had some major goofs, which you will read about later, and am duly chastened.
- love my neighbor as myself. This is hard duty. Currently engaged in a parking war with the pija across the street, I am going to try to take this to heart and ignore her. Like my former neighbor, she is a real piece of work.
- unlike other tours of duty, there is no extensive shopping going on. There is nothing to buy in Spain, other than old wine barrels (got it), olive oil (got it), and espadrilles (in spades). Word up, Spain: grow an industry.
- one more trip to the Prado, Thyssen, and Botin.
11) pray, pray, pray for no shingles, accidents, or other crises. Smooth sailing, please, God!
Feast your eyes on the above photos taken by Thing 3 on her recent class trip to Mérida, in southern Spain. Ruined, Roman, and still gorgeous.
Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends, all of whom are mothers or came from them. For me, it is the hardest work in the world but the most rewarding. I am so glad I got to stay home, wherever that might have been. Who’d have thunk?
P.S. I am getting a housecleaner in Ohio, even if I have to become a barista at Starbucks. Just sayin’.